2017 was rough for movie studios when it came to box-office haul despite some huge movies hitting theaters and setting records left and right. Even though the year was rough, we still ended up with piles of great movies – too many to name. So we boiled down a list of our favorites, focusing on the genre films we talk about most here at TechnoBuffalo – superheroes, action, and science fiction. After you see what we have to say, jump down into the comments to tell us what your favorite movie from this year was. Did you love what Rian Johnson did with The Last Jedi? Did smaller movies like The Big Sick and Ladybird leave a bigger impression than the year’s bombastic superhero films? There’s no wrong answer. Except the Emoji Movie, because why would you do that?
Here, presented in alphabetical order, is our list:
Blade Runner 2049
In a year of sequels and reboots that shouldn’t exist but somehow manage to live up to the hype, Blade Runner 2049 might be the best of them. From the tone and pacing to the look of the world and even the overlong runtime of the movie, Blade Runner 2049 gets all the basics of the Blade Runner feel down pat.
But then it takes that world and brings new ideas. It is indeed a direct sequel to the original, and the events of the original film impact those of this film. But if the first movie’s question was, “are androids human?” Blade Runner 2049 wonders whether that even matters. Nexus androids think and feel and love. Is the question of whether they’re human even relevant anymore?
That a new Blade Runner movie exists in 2017 is weird enough. The original Blade Runner was set in 2019. But to think that it’s an attractive, fascinating, and engaging film, on top of that, is almost unimaginable.
John Wick: Chapter 2
With all the flash and CGI in The Matrix, it was hard to tell that we were witnessing one of the best action stars in movies doing some of his best work. Keanu Reeves was so deep into the sci-fi flick’s visual effects that it was hard to tell where he ended and the computers began. John Wick, then, was a declarative shot: Keanu Reeves is a great action star and a hell of a stuntman.
John Wick: Chapter 2, then, is confirmation and iteration. Reeves moves like an animal in the movie’s many expertly-choreographed action sequences. We get awesome moments like the fight in the hall of mirrors, the extended fight between Reeves’ and Common’s characters, Reeves’ reunion with Morpheus himself, Lawrence Fishburne. But it also expands on the concepts of the first movie, showing us that the league of assassins staying at the Continental hotel isn’t just an American thing. This is a world-wide affair.
When Wick goes rogue, the entire organization turns against him, and you can’t help but feel bad for the hundreds of assassins he’ll be fighting. If you’re looking for an in-depth plot or oscar-nominated acting, John Wick: Chapter 2 isn’t going to get you very far. If you want to see a team of action filmmakers at the top of their game, though, this movie shows exactly what that team is capable of. This is a master class in action.
Who could’ve imagined, as the first scenes of X-Men opened in 2000 that things would end this way? Seventeen years later after Wolverine and Professor X’s first adventure, we watched both characters take their last breaths.
The story eschewed so many of the tropes of superhero films and just took the characters as people. There’s no true villain here, no victory to be had. Just grasping at some small signs of happiness in dimming light.
Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart both hit home-runs with their final performances for characters they inhabited over and over again for nearly two decades. More western than comic book, Logan isn’t like any other X-Men or mainline superhero movie out there, and we’re lucky to have it.
Marvel movies have always been funny, but they’re also been unfailingly self-serious (with the exception of Ant-Man). Once the world-ending ball starts rolling, all we get are quips to punctuate the action. The patiently-timed comedy moments fall by the wayside.
With Thor: Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi has made Marvel’s first straight-up comedy. It has its action moments, sure, but it’s a comedy at its core. We get some memorable moments in the form of Thor leaping into battle while Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” plays or Odin’s conversation with Thor and Loki, but the big moments of the movie are all funny ones.
When I remember Ragnarok, I think about Thor trying to exert some modicum of authority over the Grandmaster, who clearly couldn’t be less interested. Or his reaction the first time Hulk steps out into the arena. Thor trying helplessly to convince Hulk and Valkyrie to join him. Even the opening moments with that cameo from Dr. Strange are focused on humor over seriousness. And then there’s every moment Korg is on-screen.
Somehow, Waititi managed to keep the stakes of the story high while still managing to treat these characters like lovable goofballs, and he walked away having made one of the best Marvel movies yet.
While the MCU has flourished the DCEU has stumbled so many times that it’s starting to look like a joke. Earlier this year, though, it looked like it was getting its footing when the excellent Wonder Woman hit theaters.
While Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both seemed to completely misunderstand their characters, Wonder Woman got what was so special about its protagonist. Wonder Woman is a sign of strength and hope, but also an outsider from another time. The movie moved her origin back into World War I and gave us a look at the naive heroine getting her first look at humanity, battling with cynicism even as she fought against German soldiers.
Where Man of Steel was mired in anger and Batman v Superman was a mess of a story, Wonder Woman was a tight film (via director Patty Jenkins) about a hopeful character. Maybe Aquaman can repeat Wonder Woman‘s success in 2018.
Make sure to jump into the comments below and let us know what you think – of our list and of 2017’s stack of movies. Let us know what we overlooked and what we got wrong.